Brown spots/skin discoloration
Melasma is a common skin problem, which causes brown spots or gray-brown spots, usually on the face. These brown spots are most common in people over the age of 40. Although these spots commonly appears on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin and upper lip, they may also appear on parts of the body that experience prolonged exposure to the sun – such as the forearms and neck.
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Although Melasma or brown spots themselves do not pose any health risk, it can be a source of embarrassment and cause people to feel self-conscious about their appearance. There is no treatment that can cure the condition 100%, though many treatments have been developed. Topical creams and medications containing Hydroquinone are commonly used, however they are not without health risks and effectiveness varies. While brown spots may disappear after pregnancy or after discontinuing an oral contraceptive, they may remain for many years, or a lifetime.
This condition is more prevalent among women than men. It is also more likely to occur in darker skin tones, such as Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern individuals; who all show higher rates of Melasma, especially during pregnancy. Brown spots and skin discolouration refers to lesions which are flat in appearance – not raised off of the skin. Three types of common facial patterns have been identified for melasma presentation; including centrofacial (center of the face), malar (cheekbones), and mandibular (jawbone). The malar pattern involves patches of pigment appearing on the upper cheeks. The mandibular pattern refers to the jaw location. There are many potential causes and triggers for this condition, including age, sunlight and medication.
We know that sun exposure certainly contributes to the development of brown spots. Since tanning beds emit ultraviolet light, they may also hasten the development of these spots. Ultraviolet light can stimulate our skin’s melanocytes or pigment-producing cells. People who have darker skin tones will have more active melanocytes than individuals with lighter skin. Melanocyte pigment production for dark skinned people increases when stimulated by light or an increase in certain hormones. Because these cells are so sensitive to the sun, when Melasma is successfully treated and faded it can return fairly easily with repeated sun exposure.
Needless to say, the most effective prevention of this condition is regular use of quality sun blocks, hats and clothing to protect from the sun. This will also be the most effective way to maintain results when Melasma has faded.
Age spots may also present themselves as brown spots on the skin. These types of brown spots are also known as ‘liver spots’ and solar lentigines. On the areas of skin that have had years of the most frequent and prolonged sun exposure, such as forehead, cheekbones and back of the hands, age spots appear when melanin becomes “clumped” or is produced in high concentrations. These types of blemishes are very common among those over the age of 40. Despite the name, these spots are unrelated to liver problems. They are formed due to the fact that from around the age of 40 onwards, the skin’s ability to regenerate from sun exposure experiences a decline, thereby causing liver spots, particularly among those who spend more time in the sun.
Brown spots may also be induced by a wide variety of drugs. The main drugs that have been linked to the appearance of brown spots are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Phenytoin, antimalarials, amiodarone, antipsychotic drugs, cytotoxic drugs, tetracyclines, and heavy metals.
Those with a family history of melasma are at an increased risk for developing the condition as well.
Q Esthetics is one of the first laser clinics to offer laser melasma treatment in the Greater Toronto Area. In our practice at Q Esthetics Laser Clinic, we have found that the Q-switched Yag laser, intense pulsed light (IPL) , chemical peels and microdermabrasion may also help to improve melasma of different cutaneous layers.
Skin discoloration is caused by damage to the cells in the skin that make melanin – the pigment which gives skin its color. Pigmentation disorders affect the color of the skin, either in patches or over the entire body. With an over production of melanin, the skin gets darker. Conversely, if too little melanin is produced, the skin gets lighter – as with Vitiligo or Albinism. Some of the more common causes for changes in skin color are illness, injury, and inflammatory problems.
Skin discoloration causes
Burns – when sunburn, or any other type of burn heals, scar tissue may form that is not the same color as the surrounding skin.
Infections – if bacteria enters a wound and causes a skin infection, the surrounding skin may become discoloured. Fungal infections such as ringworms can also trigger discoloured patches on the skin.
Autoimmune diseases and allergies – Some autoimmune diseases, such as Lupus and Graves Disease, may attack the skin and cause changes in skin color. These reactions can range from red rashes and blisters to skin lightening or darkening.
Allergies – Allergic reactions to foods, plants, or irritants may also cause discoloured skin patches over various areas of the body. Eczema is a common allergy that can cause skin discoloration is as it triggers an immune reaction that attacks the skin.
Hormonal changes – increased levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, particularly during pregnancy, may cause changes in the skins pigmentation.
Birthmarks – birthmarks may be present at birth or develop over time and usually differ in color from the surrounding skin.
Skin cancer – cancer can alter the color and texture of the skin.
At Q Esthetics Laser Clinic , we use IPL and Nd:YAG laser in conjunction with electrocautery to fade or remove a diverse range of skin discoloration conditions. Please call one of our three convenient clinics to schedule a complimentary consultation and let us show you what we can do for you today*.
Esthetic Laser Clinic
Here at Q Esthetics Laser Clinic, we work with thousands of our patients each and every year, so we can understand how you feel and how to serve your needs better. You may already have problems to deal with, and you’ve likely tried many products to treat yourself at home, experiencing disappointment and frustration. Our experienced medical staff will thoroughly examine your complexion to ensure the right treatment options are offered to you for your specific needs*. There is not one solution that fits all, and your private one-on-one consultation will be the first step to regaining your beauty and health again. Rest assured we offer many different treatment modalities, and if you’ve given up, because of poor results from previous treatments, we will find effective alternatives so that you can begin to see yourself in great shape again.
Call one of our three convenient clinics today and book your complimentary consultation to find out how we can assist you.
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